Spend a few days in the beautiful city of Singapore before island-hopping up the east coast of Malaysia and making your way through Kuala Lumpur, Penang and the Cameron Highlands. This 30 day itinerary will help you to plan your trip to Malaysia and Singapore, and give you guide on how much to budget for your trip. I’ve also written a detailed post about each stop so you can dip in and read a little bit more about each place in detail. Whether you’re going for a long trip, or just a few days, this guide will give you everything you need to plan your trip.
I use an app called Trail Wallet to track our spending as we travel so I have included our daily costs per person in each place we have been. I’ve got a little info about SIM cards and data at the end too.
Use this guide to create your own trip around Malaysia and discover the sheer beauty of the islands on the East Coast.
Singapore: 3 Nights
Daily Budget: £55 \ €62 per day per person
Transport: LGW to SIN. We flew directly from London to Singapore for £189 per person with Norwegian Airlines. Flights start at £159 if you book early.
Accommodation £65 / €74 per night (budget option below)
We stayed at Champion City Hotel near Clarke Quay. This was a little expensive but we were fresh off a 12 hour flight so we needed it. We had a clean and comfortable air conditioned room in a great location, and the bed was a dream!
For a cheaper option check out Vintage Inn capsule hostel in Little India for just $26 / £14 / 16 per bed per night. We stayed here on our last trip to Singapore and loved it. Vintage Inn is a clean hostel with shared bathrooms and good wifi in a great location.
Pulau Babi Besar: 4 Nights
Daily Budget: £35 / €40 per day per person.
Transport: Singapore to Pulau Babi Besar (6 hours, £26 / €29 per person)
Boats to Pulau Babi Besar leave from Mersing Jetty on the South-East coast of Malaysia. We booked our bus from Singapore with BusOnlineTicket.com for 30SGD / £16 / €18 one way. The bus left at 6:30am and arrived in Mersing at about 10am. Crossing the border was quick and well organised. You have to take your bags through with you when you go through the Malaysian side as they search the bus. We were able to book reclining seats together and they were really comfortable and spacious. Bring a jumper as the air con can get quite chilly.
Our boat to Besar was organised by our accommodation. The boat left at 12pm and took around 30 minutes to reach the Besar jetty. We paid 55MYR/ £10 / €11 each at reception for the journey when we arrived in Besar. If you would rather not book accommodation in advance try calling up D’Coconut (they seem like the most chilled out resort) and asking to jump on their boat. We would have stayed longer in hindsight as it was my favourite island, but I was impatient to see the others so we left.
Pulau Tioman: 2 Nights
Daily Budget: £35 / €40
Transport: (2.5 hours from Besar, 125MYR / £23 / €25 per person)
We got a boat back from Besar to Mersing at 1:30pm, which was arranged through our accommodation. At the jetty we bought tickets for the 4pm boat to Tioman island for 70MYR / £13 / €14 return. The boat journey to Tioman was very rocky and not enjoyable. The crossing takes 2 hours so do take anti-nausea tablets if you suffer from sea sickness. It was fine on the way back so we might just have gotten a bad day, but best to take some just in case and not to sit at the front.
There’s a ‘conservation fee’ to pay at the Jetty which is 30MYR per person
We had planned 2 days but we didn’t enjoy Tioman at all. While the other islands were quiet on the low season, their natural beauty and stunning beaches made up for the lack of people. Since Tioman is popular for beach bars and partying, it’s probably more fun in June and July when there’s a bit of a crowd.
Kuala Terengganu: 2 Nights
Daily Budget: £25 / €28 per person
Transport: (6 hours, 37MYR / £6 /€7 one way per person)
Our bus trip was with Transnasional and booked on BusOnlineTicket.com. We had the same experience as the previous trip from Singapore. Clean and comfy, but cold! There are three departure times for this journey: 11:30am, 9:30pm and 11:30pm. We went for the 11:30am because we hate night buses, but if you’re the kind of person who can sleep anywhere then the night bus is a good way to save on a night of accommodation.
Accommodation: Leisure Lodge (£15 / €17 per night)
Kuala Terengganu (commonly referred to as KT) isn’t a popular spot in Malaysia, but if you are going to the nearby islands then take a night or two here to wander the city and see the many beautiful mosques and temples. Our room at Leisure Lodge was spotless, and the beds were really comfortable, with crisp, fresh sheets and fluffy pillows. There are shared bathrooms which were always clean, plus a sitting room to relax in. The wifi is fast and they have hot and cold water on tap. I would definitely recommend staying here – you can even stay in a shared dorm for a cheaper price.
Pulau Kapas: 4 Nights
Daily Budget: £16 / €18 per person
Transport: Kuala Terengganu to Pulau Kapas (30 mins, 20MYR / £3 / €4 per person)
We got a Grab taxi to Marang jetty for 20MYR / £3 / €4 (not to be confused with Merang Jetty further north). Grab is the South East Asian version of Uber. It’s super cheap and has really nice drivers and safe cars, so it’s well worth downloading the app if you’re travelling in Malaysia or any of the neighbouring countries. We booked our boat ticket at the jetty for the 11am boat, which cost 40MYR return per person for the boat and took around 15 minutes. The crossing can be rough so hang on tight!
Pulau Lang Tengah: 4 Nights
Daily Budget: £35 / €40 per per person
Transport: (45 minutes, 40MYR / £7 / €8)
The boats to Lang Tengah leave from Merang jetty (not to be confused with Marang jetty on the other side of KT!). We paid 40MYR to get to the jetty from the centre of KT using a Grab taxi.
There’s a ‘conservation fee’ to pay at the jetty which is 30MYR /£5 / €6 per person.
Lang Tengah is around 35 minutes away from the mainland and the boat costs 60MYR / £11 / €12.50 per person. When we crossed it was a really calm and enjoyable boat trip, and we were able to see the nearby Perhentian Islands and Redang island on the way there.
Kuala Lumpur: 5 Nights
Daily Budget: £30 / €35 Per person
Transport: approx 4 hours, £30 / €35 per person. We took a Grab taxi from Merang Jetty to Kota Bharu and flew from there to KL with Air Asia. You can also fly from Kuala Terengganu airport, or the cheapest option to get to KL is to take the bus. Our flight took 1 hour 5 minutes and cost £21 per person with 15kg baggage allowance. To get from the airport to the city we took the KLIA express and then the MRT to Petaling Street.
Accommodation: £16 / €19 per night. We stayed at the Lantern Hotel in Chintown for 90MYR / £16 / €19 per night for a double room en suite. This gorgeous and super budget hostel is located on the famous Petaling Street and has a lovely deck which overlooks the market. The rooms are compact but clean and a simple free breakfast is included. We stayed here on our first stay in KL and liked it so much that we went back.
Stay tuned for my ’48 Hours In Kuala Lumpur’ travel guide.
George Town: 3 Nights
Daily Budget: £29 / €33 Per person
Transport: There are three options to get between KL and Penang: Direct flights start from £20 per person, trains start at £11 and the bus starts at just £6. We went with the cheapest option and booked a bus through BusOnlineTicket.com for 38.50 / £6.99 / €8 per person.
Accommodation: £14 / €16 per night. We stayed first in the 80’s Guesthouse on the very popular and fun Love Lane in George Town. This hostel was cheap at just 75MYR / £14 / €16 per night for a double room with free breakfast and shared bathroom. However it was a little run down and so noisy that we couldn’t sleep well.
We moved to the terribly named, but much nicer ‘Wassup Youth Hostel‘ on the opposite side of town for the rest of our stay. A double ensuite room at Wassup with AC and a fridge is 93MYR / £17 / €19 and AC dorm beds start at just 32MYR / £6 / €7. The hostel has an outdoor pool, a bar, games room, a chill out area on each floor and there is a pay as you go gym right round the corner. I would definitely stay here if we went back to George Town, it’s not easy to find a clean place with a pool for that price.
Stay tuned for my ’48 Hours In Penang’ travel guide.
Cameron Highlands: 3 Nights
Daily Budget: £25 / €29 Per person
Transport: We took a bus from Komtar in Goerge Town to Tanah Rata in the Cameron Highlands for 40MYR / £7 / €8 which I booked through BusOnlineTicket.com. The bus took 5 hours and was really comfortable. We made one bathroom / food stop along the way and stopped about 4 times to let people out. Try to sit on the left hand side of the bus as the views of the highlands are amazing the closer you get to Tanah Rata!
Accommodation: £7 / €8 per nigh. We stayed in Map Travel Lodge hostel right in the centre of Tanah Rata. This little capsule hostel is just 40MYR / £7 / €8 per night for a single dorm bed with a shared bathroom and common room. All beds are dorm beds and there are mixed and female-only dorms. Bathrooms and beds are very clean and the showers were really good. There’s not much in the way of privacy and the noise levels depend on who is staying, some nights it was fine and others there were some loud guests and didn’t sleep well. The hostel is well located and it’s great for a one or two night stay, any longer and you might find the lack of privacy hard. It is a good place to people though so great for solo travellers.
Stay tuned for my ’48 Hours In Cameron Highlands’ travel guide.
Wifi is a rarity when you’re on the east coast and even if a resort says they have it, it might not be working, or any good. We bought Celcom X PAX sim cards in Mersing at a phone shop. There are a lot in the town, and you can also buy these sim cards from local 7-11 stores and other markets in most towns. X-PAX was recommended as the best if you want to visit islands and we had no problem with reception.
Even if you don’t think you’ll need the data as you’re not on social media please consider getting a SIM card for local calls or for ordering taxis. Ours came in really helpful when we were arranging buses and boats. It’s not that easy to find a taxi without Grab and you don’t want to get stuck somewhere unfamiliar without a phone. We paid £6 for 5GB of 4G data so it’s really cheap.
Thanks for reading,